Meet the Reigning World Champion of Competitive Hot Air Ballooning

Great Big Story, Youtube
Great Big Story, Youtube / Great Big Story, Youtube

Inspired by the popular game Clash of Clans, Great Big Story set out to get an inside look at competitive hot air ballooning from the reigning world champion Rhett Heartsill.

So, how do participants compete? They take turns throwing markers from their balloons as close as they can to a set of targets, one-meter-by-one-meter Xs. And the sport isn't entirely solo. Heartsill relies on his sister, Kate, for much of the direction. On the ground, she helps him navigate to the target and sends up a helium balloon to gauge the wind conditions.

Learn more about the surprising sport in the full video from Great Big Story below: